HomeTechnologyBest VPN service: Is ExpressVPN, Nord or SurfShark the best VPN in August 2022?
Best VPN service: Is ExpressVPN, Nord or SurfShark the best VPN in August 2022?
August 2, 2022
Best VPN: If you’re struggling to decide between ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and more – we can help (Image: GETTY • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
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Hunting for the best VPN money can buy? That’s truly no easy task as there are a mind-boggling number of Virtual Private Networks – or VPNs – available to download.
The reason for the dizzying number of options is simple – VPNs are phenomenal and a must-have app on your smartphone, laptop, streaming set-top box, or tablet. That’s because VPNs unlock a number of incredibly useful features, from keeping your web browsing history private to enabling you to stream TV shows, films and sports that aren’t available to watch in your current location due to geo restrictions. A good VPN will also ensure that any data entered into websites is completely safe from prying eyes.
Ticking all of these boxes (and many, many more) is NordVPN.
That’s why we’ve crowned it the best VPN in August 2022. It strikes a brilliant balance between advanced features – like Dark Web monitoring, split-tunnelling, a built-in password manager, and its new Meshnet feature that lets you create your own VPN server worldwide with any gadgets in your collection – and an incredibly easy-to-use app for VPN newcomers.
NordVPN boasts apps for every platform, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, macOS, and Fire TV for streaming fans. It has server locations across the globe, so you’ll be able to stream TV shows, films, and live sports fixtures from anywhere on the planet with a few taps. Download speeds are only reduced by a marginal amount, so you won’t need to worry about endless buffering before sinking your teeth into the latest boxset binge on Netflix US.
Unlike some of the closest competition, NordVPN prices start from under £3 and it boasts a quibble-free 30 days money-back guarantee, so signing up is risk-free! In fact, it’s almost a free trial. There’s also support for Apple Pay and Google Pay at checkout, which means you can sign-up with a couple of taps and not hand over any card details. NordVPN doesn’t store any data on its subscribers because it’s located in a nation without data retention laws, so your web browsing habits will remain completely private …unlike going online without a VPN!
Our complete ranking of the best VPN services in August 2022 is as follows…
Scroll down if you’d like more information on any of the Virtual Private Networks included in this guide, as well as some answers to the most commonly asked questions around VPNs. Whether you’re a veteran VPN user or a newcomer looking to boost security on their devices or stream Netflix US, there should be something for everyone in this VPN guide.
What is a VPN?
Virtual Private Networks – more commonly referred to as VPNs – generate an encrypted tunnel that shields all of your internet traffic. If you’re using a public Wi-Fi network, like those in coffee shops, stadiums, and airports, a VPN will prevent bad actors from intercepting any of your sensitive data.
This encrypted tunnel also shields your online data from prying eyes, blocking your home broadband provider, governments, and advertisers from keeping tabs on your online activity!
Since all of your online traffic is being funnelled through this secure connection, it can be routed via servers across the globe. This changed your IP address and makes it appear as if you’re located in another country. If you’re looking to access online services (like Twitter, Google, and Facebook) that are banned in your current location, switching to a server in the UK or United States will unlock these sites.
Streaming fans will be able to browse and stream from catalogues in a wide variety of different nations. Netflix offers a different selection of TV shows and movies in each country, with some subscribers enjoying a much, much bigger selection of boxsets for the same monthly fee. With a VPN, and a provider with a healthy number of server locations, you can unlock all of these to stream to your iPhone, Android, or on the big screen using a Fire TV Stick, for example.
Think of a VPN as a supercharged version of the Incognito Mode found in the Google Chrome web browser. It boasts privacy, keeps you safe from attacks on public Wi-Fi networks (likely the reason any work laptops you’ve owned all required a VPN before you work from outside of the office), and lets you stream TV shows from anywhere on the planet.
Finally, VPNs are crucial to keep your internet history safe from governments too, with these apps used by whistleblowers and sources helping journalists uncover wrongdoing.
But Why Do I Need A VPN?
It’s true that, once upon a time, VPNs were pretty niche and were only used by enterprise users. But the explosion in streaming services, such as Netflix, Disney+, Paramount+, and HBO Max, has catapulted VPNs into the mainstream.
While encryption is an essential aspect of a Virtual Private Network (and the reason that your workplace likely requires you to turn on a VPN before working from home), it’s the ability to manually change your IP addresses using the hundreds of server locations around the world that makes these apps so exciting.
For those who don’t know, an IP address is assigned to your device whenever you connect to the internet and contains information on your location. It’s the reason you’re able to see your current address on Google Maps or the way that retailers enable features like Find Your Nearest Store on their websites.
Some of the most popular streaming services place geographic restrictions on their content, usually due to different licensing agreements in each country. For example, while Tina Fey’s seminal sit-com 30 Rock is available to watch in its entirety on Netflix in the United States …however, the show is only available via Sky Comedy in the UK due to different licensing agreements agreed upon by the broadcasters. Likewise, Supernatural – a hit horror-drama from The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke – is available to stream in its entirety on Netflix US, but isn’t available to stream anywhere in the UK. Instead, you’ll need to buy individual episodes from digital stores like iTunes or Prime Video.
It’s well known that UK subscribers have access to a smaller catalogue of shows, documentaries and movies than their US counterparts, despite paying the same monthly fee. And some streaming services, like HBO Max, Hulu, and more, are not available to access in the UK.
Top Reasons To Use A VPN
It supercharges your streaming subscriptions
Protects you from cyberattacks on public Wi-Fi networks
Keeps your data safe from prying eyes
Did we mention that it lets you stream from Netflix US?!
VPNs can manually tweak your IP address – making it appear as if you’re on holiday in the United States for the evening. Just like when you’re visiting on holiday, your existing UK login credentials will work on all of the Netflix apps, but the catalogue of shows, documentaries, and movies will be completely different.
And it’s not just for Netflix either. VPNs can be used to unlock a bevy of shows and films across a wide range of streaming services, unlock sporting events that aren’t broadcast in your current location, and subscribe to new services that haven’t yet launched where you’re based.
Likewise, if you’re away on holiday and some of the online services that you subscribe to aren’t yet available in the country you’re staying in – the ability to change your IP address with a VPN can help.
You can use a VPN on a number of devices, including a mobile device – like a smartphone or tablet, a laptop or desktop computer, video game console, or streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV or Roku.
In some countries, like Turkey or China, a number of the globe’s biggest internet services have been banned due to tough censorship laws. If you’re visiting and want to use Twitter or Google, you’ll need access to a VPN.
And don’t forget the encryption and privacy benefits too. If you’re concerned about the amount of data that internet providers, social networks, and other online services are collecting on you, VPNs can help. Features like multi-hop will bounce your internet connection via multiple VPN servers around the world, making it impossible to trace the original location and preventing trackers from storing data on your location, internet history, data from online forms and more used to keep tabs on your activity.
Better yet, these services are a powerful way to block any attempts to steal your data, especially when making payments or checking your bank balance on a public Wi-Fi network, like those in Starbucks or other coffee shops.
Kill switches, which are included in all of the Virtual Private Networks recommended in this guide, provide an extra layer of security by automatically “killing” the connection if the link to the VPN server drops. This prevents any data from being exposed with an unsecured connection.
How To Find The Best VPN For You
With so many choices, and so many companies promising everything you could ever want …it can be really tough to find the best VPN for you. However, there are a few very important factors that you should always keep in mind before picking a Virtual Private Network. If you’re new to VPNs, this list might help you to choose the best subscription for your needs.
• Cost: How much do you want to spend on a VPN each month? Thankfully, most VPN services offer a very generous money-back guarantee within the first 30 to 45 days, so you’ll be able to commit to a longer contract (these offer the lowest monthly costs) safe in the knowledge that you can get a full refund if you’re unhappy with the service at any point within the first month or so.
• Free: While picking a free VPN might be incredibly tempting – especially if you’re new to VPNs – it’s worth remembering that none of these no-cost services offer the same features as the paid-for options. All free VPN providers will hold back a few features or limit the amount of bandwidth that you’re able to use to push you to upgrade to their paid plans. As such, the money-back guarantees available with paid plans might be a better options, as your download speeds and bandwidth won’t be restricted, and you’ll be able to access premium features like split-tunnelling, password managers, multi-hop and much, much more.
• Devices:If you’re planning to use your new VPN on a very specific device, it’s worth checking the VPN has a compatible app. While some devices, like iPhone, iPad, Android and Fire TV, all offer native VPN support within the operating system, there are other popular gadgets – like Roku streaming dongles – that will need a workaround.
• Privacy: It might sound unimportant, but it’s crucial to check where your new VPN provider has built its headquarters. That’s because different countries require different amounts of data collection on customers (so that companies can share identifying data with authorities) but there is a handful with no data collection laws. This is the best option if you’re signing up for a VPN as a privacy boost.
What Is The Best VPN Service In August 2022?
NordVPN has been crowned asour best VPN service in 2022. There are a number of reasons for this, including its stellar apps for iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon Fire TV Stick, as well as its affordable prices. Find our complete breakdown of why NordVPN is our favourite VPN provider on the market below…
NordVPN – The Best VPN Service You Can Buy Today
NordVPN is a stellar VPN service that boasts the best mobile apps of any VPNs on this list. Available on iOS and Android, the mobile app makes it ludicrously easy for newcomers to get connected for the first time. If you’re a little unsure about VPNs, NordVPN makes it ludicrously simple to find a server from around the world and change your location. Your frequently-visited countries will always appear at the top of the app – so it’s simple to jump back into your favourite series on US-only Netflix, for example.
And it’s not just iPhone and Android, either. NordVPN allows subscribers to connect a generous 6 different devices at the same time. That’s especially handy since NordVPN has apps for almost every device you could think of, including smartphones, to tablets, games consoles, Chromebooks, Fire TV Stick dongles, Windows and Mac.
You can even install NordVPN directly on your Wi-Fi router, so that every device that connects to your home Wi-Fi network will be automatically routed via the VPN and shielded by encryption, or (if you want) re-routed via a different country to appear as if you’re abroad. Handy!
NordVPN is our Best VPN, thanks to its amazing apps and low monthly cost (Image: NORDVPN • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
What We Love
Beautifully Designed App For iPhone And Android
Fast Connections – Perfect For Streaming Video
Can Automatically Monitor Dark Web For Your Leaked Passwords
Can Connect Up To 6 Devices To The Same Account
Split Tunnelling Included With Your Subscription
What We Don’t Love
Not As Many Locations For Your IP Address As Some VPNs
When it comes to the number of countries available, NordVPN offers a pretty impressive selection – with a choice of 60 nations worldwide. That said, it’s not quite as many options are ExpressVPN, which boasts 94 possible countries. So, those who want to appear in more exotic locations might want to look elsewhere.
However, NordVPN covers the most popular destinations, including the United States. And for most of us, NordVPN more than makes up for this shortfall with the dizzying number of servers worldwide (more than 5,000 available worldwide compared to just 160 for ExpressVPN), which ensures you’re always able to find a solid connection – even at peak times when some servers could become congested with a flood of users.
When it comes to speed testing, NordVPN only marginally impacted download speeds, which makes it great for streaming video. Without NordVPN enabled, we clocked up 130Mbps and a few moments later, with its VPN enabled and shielding our data, we recorded a download speed of 100Mbps. Sure, that is a hit.
But that’s still more than enough to stream in crisp 4K Ultra HD in multiple rooms around the house. And with features like split-tunnelling included with NordVPN, you only need to take the hit to your speeds on devices that need to be tapping into a server on the other side of the globe.
For those who don’t know, split-tunnelling allows you to pick multiple servers for your online traffic. So, while it might be an advantage for certain devices, like an Amazon Fire TV Stick, to think that it’s in the United States to unlock more boxsets, sports, and movies on streaming services, you might not want that for your iPhone, which needs to know your approximate location for Google Maps, for example.
Picking a server closer to home should also reduce the impact on your download speeds. So, it’s possible to stay connected via a Virtual Private Network in the UK, without sacrificing any download speed on devices where you don’t need to appear abroad.
NordVPN isn’t just a Virtual Private Network as your subscription also covers a password manager from the brand. For those who don’t know, password managers allow you to generate unique passwords for every website or app that you use. These are all stored within the password manager, so you don’t need to remember every % symbol or random sequence of numbers.
It means that – nightmare scenario – one of your logins is exposed in a data breach, hackers won’t be able to access all of your accounts since none will use the same email address-password combination. You’ll only need to change a single account (the one that was leaked) and you can sleep easy. In combination with its password manager, the built-in Dark Web monitoring means that NordVPN will alert you as soon as a breach has exposed your details!
Where NordVPN really shines compared to its closest rival, ExpressVPN, is the difference in price. This provider offers a number of stellar deals, with prices regularly dropping below £3 a month for a subscription. At the moment, NordVPN is celebrating its tenth birthday with a guaranteed freebie for everyone who signs up. Taking out a new subscription will put you in a ballot where you’ll win either one-month, one-year or two years extra subscription time for free.
NordVPN offers a number of possible payment options, including all major credit card providers (Mastercard, VISA, AMEX, and Discovery). PayPal and Amazon Pay are also accepted too. Unlike most of the other providers on this list, you can also pay for NordVPN using Apple Pay and Google Pay. This will allow you to breeze through the checkout process, with your iPhone or Android filling in all of the payment details (and keeping your credit card details stashed away).
You can also subscribe to NordVPN using a number of the most popular cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum.
ExpressVPN – Brilliant VPN For Streaming Video From Around The World
ExpressVPN is a brilliant VPN provider that could’ve easily pipped NordVPN to our Gold Medal position. In fact, we’re so impressed with this popular VPN that it scored a full five stars in our ExpressVPN review.
With the same 24/7 customer support and 30-day money-back guarantee as our top pick, ExpressVPN is rightly just as confident about its product as NordVPN.
Of course, that’s hardly surprising – in our testing, ExpressVPN performed amazingly with only a marginal impact on download speeds. On top of that, ExpressVPN works hard to ensure that it has a steady stream of new servers coming online to escape Netflix’s recent crackdown on VPNs. So while some providers struggle to unlock the full catalogue available in the United States, ExpressVPN never runs into an issue. That’s the reason that ExpressVPN was named ourbest VPN for streaming.
ExpressVPN is superb for streaming, but is a little more expensive than other options (Image: EXPRESSVPN • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
What We Love
Apps For All Of The Devices You Could Ever Want To Use
Always Adding New Unblocked Servers For Netflix US
Really Fast Connections – Perfect For Streaming
Never Keeps Data On Its Customers
What We Don’t Love
Quite Expensive Compared To The Competition
5 Device Limit Might Be Too Restrictive For Some
If you’ve got a truckload of gadgets, the 5 device limit with each ExpressVPN subscription might put you off. However, just like NordVPN, the company offers dedicated apps to install on your Wi-Fi router – ensuring that every device that connects to your home Wi-Fi network is protected by the VPN. Of course, that means you can ensure your online browsing is shielded on every device from your internet provider, as well as bad actors online.
And if you want to use ExpressVPN to manually change your location around the globe, you’ll be able to use this feature on devices without dedicated apps from the firm, like your Smart TV, smartwatch, and more.
Express VPN pledges to never collect identifying information about its customers, including IP address, online activity, traffic destination, or even the length of each session. Given that one of the main benefits of using a VPN is the boost to privacy, this is a reassuring step. Actions speak louder than words, and ExpressVPN has taken a number of steps to show its dedication to privacy. The company has based itself in the British Virgin Islands because there are no data retention laws there. That means ExpressVPN isn’t legally obliged to keep tabs on the browsing habits of its customers.
As one of the market leaders, ExpressVPN charges a little more than the competition. As such, if you’re looking for a truly competitive deal, it might be worth looking elsewhere than ExpressVPN. However, those who want to subscribe to the service should look at the 6-month and 15-month options, which offer some huge savings compared to a monthly rolling contract. With one of these promotions, you’ll be able to drop your monthly bills as low as £5.20 or so.
ExpressVPN accepts a number of payment methods, including the biggest credit and debit card providers, like Mastercard, VISA, American Express, and Discover. Paypal and Bitcoin are also options. If you don’t want to pay everything upfront, there’s even Klarna support now – so you can break up the payment into smaller instalments (helpful if you want to buy a one-year subscription upfront to benefit from the biggest saving).
Unfortunately, unlike NordVPN, there’s no Google Pay or Apple Pay for a one-tap checkout.
Surfshark VPN – Great VPN With Impossibly Low Prices
The one advantage of picking Surfshark VPN over any of the other services in this list is the ability to login with an unlimited number of devices. That’s not something we’re used to seeing from VPN providers and means you’ll be able to login from any number of gadgets that you want – from anywhere in the world. That’s what really sets Surfshark apart from almost every other VPN in this article and is a huge advantage for those who aren’t confident enough to install a VPN onto their router (both NordVPN and Express VPN offer software for the router, which ensures that all devices that connect via your home Wi-Fi network are protected by the VPN – bypassing the device limit).
SurfShark VPN is a great choice, thanks to its brilliant VPN subscription deals (Image: SURFSHARK • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
Why Surfshark VPN?
What We Love
Apps For Every One Of Your Devices
Unlimited Number Of Logins For All Of Your Gadgets
Unbelievable Value Compared To The Competition
Never Keeps Data On Its Customers
What We Don’t Love
Connections Are Not Quite As Speedy As NordVPN and ExpressVPN
Sometimes Need To Reconnect To Stream From Video Apps
Like the providers above, Surfshark boasts a wide variety of apps, including iOS, iPadOS, Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and more.
Elsewhere, you’ll find the same 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 customer support as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, so there’s no risk when signing up for the first time and seeing how Surfshark performs for you.
It’s also based in the British Virgin Islands, just like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, to avoid any data retention laws forcing it to store information on its customers about what they’re doing with the service, how long they’re connected, their real IP address, and more.
Surfshark is incredibly competitively priced. With the right deal, you can drop the monthly cost down to a criminally low £1.70 a month. That’s ludicrously cheap for a service that’s so useful. There are always new deals and promotions available, so check below for the latest offers.
Surfshark VPN accepts all credit cards, from VISA to Mastercard, AMEX and Discover. There’s also Paypal, Apple Pay and Google Pay – handy if you don’t want to manually fill-out all of your details at the checkout. You can also pay for your VPN subscription with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
CyberGhost VPN – Great VPN With Best Money-Back Guarantee On The Market
If you’re still a little uncertain about how a Virtual Private Network is going to fit into your (digital) life, it might be worth taking a look at CyberGhost. This well-respected provider has hands-down the best money-back guarantee policy of any VPN on this list. While our top pick NordVPN (and most of its competitors) offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for those who don’t get on with its product, CyberGhost extends this to a whopping 45-days.
CyberGhost VPN has one of the most generous money back guarantees of any VPN service (Image: CYBERGHOST • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
Why CyberGhost VPN?
What We Love
Unmatched 45-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Over 7,700 Servers Available – More Than Any Other VPN In This Article
Free Trial Is Available
Split Tunnelling Included With All Subscription Tiers
No Data Collection From Customers
What We Don’t Love
Console Apps Haven’t Been Updated To Support Latest Generation
Buying A Subscription From The iOS App Is More Expensive Than Buying Online
Of course, you could sign-up for a free VPN account with ProtonVPN above, but as we’ve already explained, there are a number of limitations applied to these cost-free accounts that means you won’t quite be experiencing the full potential offered by a Virtual Private Network.
In contrast, with CyberGhost, you’ll be able to enjoy a full-featured account for more than a month safe in the knowledge that if it doesn’t work for you, you’ll be able to apply for a refund from the company in minutes.
Like NordVPN and Express VPN, CyberGhost offers 24/7 live chat with its customer service team so no matter what time it is – you’ll be able to get your problem resolved.
CyberGhost also offers a free tier, if you want to use that to dip your toes in the water, before signing-up to one of its best value bundles (these arrive with the 45-day money-back guarantee, as the pricier rolling one-month subscription only has a 14-day refund period).
Elsewhere, CyberGhost offers a pretty competitive package compared to its rivals. You’ll be able to manually change your location to some 91 different countries around the world – that’s the second-highest number, falling behind only Express VPN in our definitive list of VPNs. For those who need to travel virtually to far-flung destinations, CyberGhost is a brilliant choice.
It also has more than 7,700 servers across those 91 countries – the highest of any provider on this list – so you should always be able to find a server that’s free from congestion, even during peak times.
Just as you’d expect from a service that encrypts your online traffic and keeps your web browsing safe from prying eyes, CyberGhost makes some lofty promises about data security. “When using the CyberGhost VPN, we have no idea about your traffic data such as browsing history, traffic destination, data content, and search preferences. These are not monitored, recorded, logged or stored by us,” CyberGhost says.
Better yet, it doesn’t store your credit card information (VISA, Mastercard, AMEX, and Discover are all supported), either. Everything is processed by a third-party payment processor. Of course, there are a number of other ways to pay for your VPN subscription, including PayPal, Bitcoin, and Apple Pay for a one-tap checkout process. Unfortunately, Android users lose out as there’s no support for Google Pay right now.
PIA (Private Internet Access) VPN – A Secure VPN With Huge Discounts Available
Private Internet Access VPN might not have the snappiest name, but it does have some very exciting features at a low cost. Like the other VPN providers in this article, Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 access to customer service if you need to take them up on that offer. That means you should feel confident signing up for a longer contract …handy, as that’s the best way to secure the biggest discounts from PIA.
PIA never keeps any usage logs – it doesn’t store any details on its customers. That’s important as one of the key reasons to install a Virtual Private Network onto your machine is to protect your privacy. Unlike a number of the other providers in this list, PIA is headquartered in a country where law enforcement can request access to data logs.
Private Internet Access, PIA, might be the best VPN for you (Image: PIA • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
Why PIA VPN?
What We Love
Dedicated IP Address Feature Saves You From Endless CAPTCHAs
One Subscription Can Be Used On 10 Different Devices
Apps For All Major Platforms
Huge Number Of Payment Options
What We Don’t Love
Based In A Country (USA) That’s Signed Up To Surveillance Scheme ‘Fourteen Eyes’
Based in the United States, PIA circumvents this issue by never storing any information on customers’ browsing history. There have been a number of real-life cases where law enforcement requested data on its customers, but PIA was unable to provide any information on the cases.
Used by 15 million customers worldwide, PIA not only encrypts and secures your online activity. Like the other VPNs in the list, PIA makes it easy to manually change your IP address to make it appear as if you’re based abroad. That means you can access streaming services, sports fixtures as well as boxsets and films not available in your current location. PIA doesn’t place any limits on the amount of bandwidth that can be routed via its secure VPN – perfect for those who want to binge hours of content.
One clever feature that PIA offers to customers is a dedicated IP address. This offers all of the benefits of a VPN – accessing restricted content, stream boxsets from overseas, hide your online activity from your ISP and other prying eyes – but swerves some of the headaches that can crop-up with other VPNs. For example, if you’re using a different IP address each time you login online, you might find yourself confronted with CAPTCHAs and other security checks as your favourite sites think you’re logging in from an unknown location (a possible sign of fraud). A dedicated IP address resolves this in the same way as logging in without a VPN prevents these headaches.
PIA has dedicated apps for all of the usual platforms – Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS, games consoles and Smart TVs, as well as Chrome, Opera and FireFox web browser extensions too. If there isn’t a dedicated app for the device you’re using, PIA offers software for Wi-Fi routers. If you install this, it’ll ensure that every device that connects to your Wi-Fi network will be tunnelled through a secure VPN connection.
When it comes to payment, there is a truckload of options available.
Like most of the providers in this list, PIA accepts all major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard and AMEX. Paypal and Amazon Pay are also available, which should make the checkout process frictionless if you already have an account with these providers. Anonymous payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies are also accepted.
PIA accepts a wider variety of cryptocurrencies compared with some of the other suppliers in this list, with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitpay, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash all payment options. Uniquely, PIA accepts third-party gift cards from Starbucks, Walmart, Best Buy, and more as payment too.
ProtonVPN – A Great Service With A Free VPN Subscription Tier
Unlike the other VPNs we’ve covered so far in this article, ProtonVPN boasts an entirely free subscription. If you’re unsure about how a Virtual Private Network will work for you, this is a great way to dip your toe into the water. While there are a number of free VPNs available, as you might expect, these usually arrive with a long, long list of limitations in a bid to push people to the paid subscription tiers (for example, companies will restrict the amount of data that can be accessed via the VPN, limits to the number of devices that can be signed-in with your account, a limited number of servers available… the list goes on and on) but ProtonVPN is a rare exception.
Of course, there are limitations on the free account, but these are manageable.
ProtonVPN is a compelling option, thanks to the long list of features and low price (Image: PROTON • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
What We Love
You Can Get Started For Free
Limits On Free Account Don’t Ruin The Experience
Access To The Most Popular Servers, Even With Free Account
What We Don’t Love
Connections Are Not Quite As Speedy As NordVPN and ExpressVPN
Data Limit Means You’ll Need To Limit Video Streaming
When using the free account, ProtonVPN only offers three locations around the world: the United States, Japan and Netherlands. So, if you’re abroad and want to spoof your location back in the UK to access services not available outside of the country, you’re out of luck. Likewise, if you’re looking to connect to services only available in nations outside of the USA, Japan and Netherlands …you’d be better opting for one of the other providers mentioned in this article.
However, when it comes to streaming video, the United States is one of the most popular locations for VPN users. So, the fact that ProtonVPN includes the USA as part of its free subscription is a huge win.
Speaking of streaming video, ProtonVPN doesn’t limit the amount of data available to free subscribers. So, you can stream gigabytes of data via its encrypted connection without any penalty. This is the most common limitation placed on free subscriptions. With ProtonVPN, you’ll be able to binge a few boxsets, stream sports fixtures in crisp High Definition, and more without worrying about being forced to upgrade to a paid tier.
That said, free ProtonVPN subscribers won’t get quite the same experience as those with the paid suppliers listed above. That’s because the single biggest drawback with opting for the free subscription tier from ProtonVPN is that your online traffic will be de-prioritised compared to paying customers.
As such, during peak times, you can expect to see your download speeds dwindle as ProtonVPN ensures its paid subscribers enjoy a buffer-free experience. That’s understandable. After all, this won’t cost you anything – so you can’t really complain.
Like the other companies in this article, ProtonVPN has a number of apps available, including iOS and Android, Windows and Mac, and popular streaming gadgets, like the Fire TV Stick. So you should be able to get its VPN up-and-running on all of your gadgets without hassle.
ProtonVPN has strict data protection policies, with pledges not to log any information about your online activity. And if you do want to switch to its paid subscription tiers, there are some solid deals available for those willing to sign-up to longer contracts.
If you do want to upgrade to one of the paid subscriptions, there are a number of payment plans available. Those who sign-up for the longer contracts will unlock the best discounts. You can pay for your membership with Paypal, all major credit card providers, and Bitcoin.
Which VPN Is Safest?
Given that one of the main selling points of connecting to the web with a VPN is that it shields your activity from outside eyes, it’s important to question the security of the Virtual Private Network provider. Our top pick – NordVPN – is incredibly safe to use. It doesn’t record any data from your activity, which includes connection timestamps, the amount of bandwidth used during your most recent session, or the IP addresses used to connect.
As mentioned above, NordVPN limits the number of devices that subscribers can connect to at any one time. Of course, in order to determine how many devices you’re using at any one time, NordVPN has to collect some data when you connect. According to the firm, “an algorithm keeps their username and the timestamp of the last session status while the session is active. This data is wiped within 15 minutes after the session is terminated”.
If that makes you a little nervous, NordVPN has proven how committed it is to security by basing the company in the British Virgin Islands. That location isn’t a coincidence, the British Virgin Islands have no data retention laws, so it’s not legally required to collect information about its customers and their habits.
It’s worth remembering that without a Virtual Private Network, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can see everything you do online – every website, the amount of time spent on each site, and the frequency that you head online. So, even with the small amount of data collected to ensure that you’re not signed into too many devices, you’re still much safer online with a VPN installed.
What Are The Best VPN Deals?
If you’re looking to save plenty of cash on your monthly subscription, you’ll want to take advantage of one of the best VPN deals around. These impressive price drops can save hundreds on the cost of a Virtual Private Network. While many of the top-rated VPNs in this article regularly run promotions and discounts on their subscriptions, there are a number of other VPN services that also offer huge savings. We’ve rounded up some of the best discounts and deals available below…
Will Using A VPN Impact My Internet Speed?
Yes, most likely. Encrypting all of your internet traffic adds an extra step in the process, which impacts the amount of time that passes between clicking a button in your web browser and your request being received by the website itself. On top of this, the further that your data has to travel, the slower the connection will be. If everything you’re doing online is being routed via Missouri in the United States, that’s going to slow things down even further.
One of the biggest differentiators between VPNs is how much they alter your internet speed. In our testing, NordVPN and ExpressVPN provided the fastest connections, with SurfShark – which, admittedly, has both of the two others in this list beaten when it comes to pricing – resulting in slightly slower connections.
Most VPNs will allow you to customise which apps use their services when connecting online. For example, you might want your social media accounts to connect to the internet without a VPN. After all, this means you’ll be able to refresh your social feed much faster and can easily tag yourself in specific locations. However, you might want all of your video streaming services, like Prime Video and Netflix, to default to the VPN.
Can I Get A Free Trial With A VPN?
NordVPN, ExpressVPN and SurfShark VPN all offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if there are any issues with the VPN within the first month, you’ll be able to get a refund. While that’s not quite a free trial, it does mean you should feel peace of mind when signing up to a longer contract, like a one-year or two-year plan. That’s good because it’s only when agreeing to these longer contracts that you’ll unlock the biggest discounts available. You can save up to 80 percent compared to a monthly rolling contract.
NordVPN, ExpressVPN and SurfShark VPN all offer 24/7 customer service too, so no matter where you’re located in the world, you’ll be able to get hold of someone to help fix your issue. Sure, it’s not quite as good as a week of free access to the VPN, but it’s a good compromise that should ensure you feel confident at checkout.
CyberGhost VPN does offer a free trial for seven days. It’s available on desktop and mobile, including the iOS and Android app. Unlike some providers, including Proton VPN, which offer a free subscription tier, CyberGhost VPN includes everything that you’d get with a paid subscription. With no limitations, that means you’ll be able to enjoy the same experience as paid subscribers. It means you’ll be able to really test how a Virtual Private Network fits with your devices and habits.
What Is Split-Tunnelling?
Split-Tunnelling is an advanced feature built into most top-tier VPNs that allow you to pick and choose which websites and streaming apps are re-routed via the encrypted Virtual Private Network. This is especially useful if you want to leverage the VPN to manually change your IP address.
For example, while you might want to change the IP address for some streaming services – like Netflix, which offers different catalogues of boxsets and movies in different countries – there could be others that don’t play nice with the new location – BBC iPlayer doesn’t work when you’re outside of the UK. Split-Tunnelling allows you to do exactly that.
Our top pick, NordVPN, supports Split-Tunnelling in a number of its most popular apps, including iPhone, Android and Fire TV Stick. However, all of the other VPN providers in this article also support the feature.
The best VPNs combine a long list of features with great apps for mobile devices and other gadgets (Image: GETTY)
If you’re new to Virtual Private Networks, NordVPN is a brilliant starting point, with its gorgeous mobile apps for Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, iPadOS, Amazon Fire TV, and more. Encrypting all of the data transmitted over your Wi-Fi connection takes a single tap and you’ll be able to quickly change your location to anywhere on the map, thanks to the 5,000 available servers worldwide. NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied and there is a team of customer service representatives available 24-hours a day to help you out with any issues that crop up.
NordVPN also offers a great balance between low monthly prices, a brilliant service, and feature-packed software. While it’s not the cheapest on the market, it’s more affordable than its nearest rival: ExpressVPN. And you’ll also benefit from split-tunnelling (so you can set a location for some applications, like Netflix, while keeping another IP address for others, like Google Maps, where it makes sense to remain in your current location), fast video streaming speeds, and built-in malware protection to shield you from computer viruses.
What Is The Best Free VPN?
There are a number of free VPNs out there, which offer many of the best features of a Virtual Private Network without costing you a penny. We’ve rounded up the best picks in our best free VPNs guide. However, it’s worth noting that many of these free VPNs restrict functionality to prompt users to upgrade to the paid plans.
As such, you might struggle with these free services – leaving you unable to watch your favourite show due to the limited bandwidth, or be unable to watch unblocked Netflix due to the limited locations available when manually changing your IP address. Since a number of the most popular VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee (and 24/7 customer service to help refund you), then there’s no risk signing up for a paid plan with the complete suite of features. Find the latest VPN prices below…